YEMEN is suffering the worst cholera epidemic in the world, with more than 200,000 cases of the disease affecting every region of the war-torn country, the UN has warned.
It has blamed the outbreak on two years of civil war in the country, which has destroyed water and sanitation systems, allowing the disease to spread rapidly (News, 7 April). More than 14.5 million people in the country do not have access to clean water.
A joint statement from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) at the weekend said that more than 1300 people had died so far from the disease, a quarter of them children. The death toll is expected to rise further. Rising rates of malnutrition among children have made them more vulnerable to disease, the UN said.
The joint statement also said that about 30,000 health workers in the country had not been paid their salaries for nearly ten months.
On Tuesday, the WHO said that the peak infection rate of 5000 cases a day was beginning to slow, thanks to the massive emergency response.
Rapid-response teams are going house-to-house to reach families with information about how to protect themselves by cleaning and storing drinking water.
Two years of civil war have left fewer than half of the country’s medical facilities operating. The country is near collapse, and seven million people are on the brink of famine.
The civil war broke out in 2015 between forces loyal to the exiled President, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is backed by the Saudis, and Houthi rebels.